Richard J Harney.

History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest online

. (page 30 of 71)
Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 30 of 71)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

November 9, 1849. "Last week we were
down to those growing towns at the foot of the
lake after an absence of a little more than two
months, and things new and almost strange,
(we say almost, because we have learned to
call nothing strange in these times of progress),
met our gaze on all sides. New houses and
new stores going up at Neenah, and since the
letting a new rush is setting in to Menasha.
Two saw mills are already in operation there,
two more are about commencing, and other
manufacturing establishments are to be com-
menced immediately. These two towns will
soon eclipse all around them."

"This town shows an improving appearance.
Parson & Bocker's flouring mill is in rapid
process of completion. The appearance is that
it will be a great advantage to the town and
surrounding country, and will add much to its
prosperity. "


"This place is rapidly improving. Its loca-
tion is beautiful, the ground being high and the

landing one of the best on the river. It is but
a few months since the village was laid out,
but quite a number of good buildings have
already been erected and everything there
wears a business-like appearance. "

May 31, 1850. The arrival of the new
steamer, Peytona, is announced. "Provisions
are very high here now, and the indications are
that a scarcity pervades the entire West. "


May3i,i85o. "Wheat, [email protected]; flour, $4
per barrel; hams, I2c; pork, $20 per barrel;
butter, 18 and 20c; cheese, $.12; eggs,
I2c; beef, $5(a;$5.50; potatoes, 87c; oats,
75c; corn, 56c; lard, ioc{g;iic."

August 9, 1850. "The new steamer, Bad-
ger State, is announced to run to Strong's
Landing. "


September 6, 1850. "In all our experience
we have never seen such long, uninterrupted,
continued and excessively wet and cold
weather, for the time of year, as we have had
since the first of July. The whole country is
a perfect ocean. It is useless to think of trav-
eling; the oat and potato crops are ruined.
During the week past it has rained almost
incessantly, and has been so cold as to require
overcoats. "

January 3, 1851. Raymond's select school
is commended as a praiseworthy institution.)

January 12, 1851. "It is announced that
the Legislature elected Dr. B. S. Henning of
this place Register of the Land Office, and
James Murdock, of Dodge County, Treasurer."

January 17. 1851. "We are requested to
give notice that the Right Reverend Bishop
Kemper, D. D. , Bishop of the Protestant Epis-
copal Church forthe diocese of Wisconsin, will
hold service in the rooms over A. N. and A.
H. Raymond's hardware store on Tuesday
evening next."

January 24, 185 1. "R. P. Eighme will
lecture before the Young Men's Association.
Subject, Knowledge and its Exercise. "


January 24, 1851. "We learn that $8,000
has been taken of the stock of the Company,
and that preparations are making for the rapid
progress of the work."

February 7, 1851. "The German concert,
Wednesday evening, went off to the satisfaction
of all who were present. Mrs. Andrea sang
'The Ship on Fire' with exceeding taste and

March 28, 1851. "The new steamer, John
Mitchell, we learn is completed and will be




here on Wednesday next. W. A. Knapp &
Co. have finished their wharf."

"We think no enterprise in this town would
pay better than a good flouring mill. The
whole country up the Wolf River gets its flour
from this place, which we have to get mostly
from Dodge County."

"The Board of Public Works (Fox and Wis-
consin Improvement) held a session here on
Monday last. The members were all present.
The Land Office is now open for entries."

April 4, 1851. "The weather here during
all March was fair and delightful."

April 25, 185 1. "The weather the past
week has been most beautiful. The steamer
Badger State has made a trip up the Wolf.
Last Saturday the John Mitchell started on a
trip to the Little Wolf

"Our neighbors on the south side of the
river must be prospering. We noticed several
new grocery stores started and preparations
for more, and any quantity of new buildings.
Prosperity seems to be the word with all.

"The circular steam saw mill of Arnold &
Gates is doing most excellent work."

May 2, 1851. "Samuel Eckstein is receiv
ing a large stock of clothing."

May 16, 185 1. "The steamer Oshkosh is
expected here to-morrow. "

May 23, 1851. "On Monday evening we
were visited with another deluge. It com-
menced about three P. M and continued until
nine, and the whole country was nearly sub-
merged. "

May 30, 1851. "Mr. Rowley informs us that
a couple of companies commenced the survey
of the Indian Land west of Wolf River and ■
north of the north line of this county a few
days since."

May 30, 1851. "Flood! Flood! We men-
tioned last week the excessive rains we had
been visited with. No sooner had we got to
press than it commenced raining again, and
continued for an entire day, harder than ever.
Again, on Monday of this week, itcommenced
and continued almost incessantly until
Wednesday. The river is higher than we have
I ever seen it before by many feet. The whole
I county is afloat and it is utterly impossible to
' get about. We have been building a shanty
on a lot which we thought to be high and dry,
I but we have had to build a raft to get from the
I door to the woodpile. "

This was the season of the high water which

will be remembered by the old settlers. The

writer sailed a boat that drew about three feet

j when loaded, from Fond du Lac, and came into

the river here with a good strong sailing breeze,
and sailed directly up to the platform of the
Oshkosh House, which occupied the present
site of Stroud's oil store. Between this point
and the river it was flooded all the season, the
water from two to four feet deep.

Meadow lands on the Fox and Wolf Rivers,
and on Lake Winnebago, that had formerly
been fine hay marshes were destroyed. The
writer sailed over a cornfield on Long
Point, and also sailed a boat drawing two feet
of water from Partridge Lake directly across
the large meadow between that lake and Gill's
Landing. Large tracts of timber on the low-
lands were destroyed; for the high water pre
vailed all the season, and only partially subsided
the next. It was thought that the dams at
Neenah and Menasha were partially the cause,
and meetings were held and an organized
efl'ort made to compel the corporations to lower

The Democrat of August 31, says:
"On Thursday last five steamers were leav-
ing this place at the same time. The Menasha
and Peytona for foot of the lake, the Oshkosh
and Badger State for Berlin, and the Mitchell
for Mukwa."


One of the events of the early day was Indian
payments. One took place on October 30,
1851. It was held at the "Pay Grounds" on
Lake Poygan, and a great concourse of people
flocked thither with all those articles that
j Indians are likely to purchase. Indian trad-
ers from all directions, and merchants from
the several villages came with their goods.
Eating shanties were erected and every means
resorted to to tempt the Indian to squander
his money. For full description of these pay-
ments see history of Town of Poygan.

In 1852 the continuance of high water created
much excitement. The river and lake had
risen about two feet above the usual high
water mark, and a belief prevailed that it was
occasioned by the Neenah and Menasha dams.
Meetings were held and counsel employed to
commence an action against the corporations
at the foot of the lake, but nothing effective
was accomplished.


May, 1853. "Oshkosh glories in a new bell,
and we feel so proud of it that we keep contin-
ually ringing it, as a boy blows upon his new

This bell had an eventful record. It was
cast in Oshkosh and it is claimed that it was the
first bell cast in the State. After it was cast
it was found that there was not material




enough to form the yoke, when more bell-metal
was procured and it was recast.

It was little thought when the new bell first
rung out its joyful peals, that it would give
warning of the dreadful fire calamity of 1859.
In this fire it was fused into a mass of metal
which Hon. Samuel Hay, then Mayor, shipped
to Troy, where it was recast and sent back to
Oshkosh to be hung in No. i Engine House,
where it did service for many years, and its
ominous tones frequently startled our citizens,
as it gave warning of the many fires that des-
olated the city.

May, 1853. "Business opens in a very flat-
tering manner this spring. There is more build-
ing, more life and activity all around town than
formerly. Last season untenanted houses
abounded here; they are occupied now, and
the demand for houses exceeds the supply. All
our dealers are receiving heavy stocks of goods
in their respective lines of trade, and prosper-
ity and activity is apparent on every side. "

March 25, 1853 "J. H. Osborn is compil-
ing an abstract of the titles to all the real
estate in the county.


"In these progressive days, when boys are
'young men' at fifteen, and girls 'young
ladies' at twelve — in an age when everything
is decidedly 'fast' — we do not know why a
burg of two or three thousand inhabitants may
not shake off the reproach implied in the word
village, and assume a place among the mature
characters of the age. Is there any good rea-
son why Oshkosh should not be a city. A
majority of our citizens believed that no such
reason existed, and on last Friday the City
charter was adopted by 177 majority. The
charter election has been held, and mayor,
aldermen, etc., have been chosen. Oshkosh
is a city. "

" The two houses of the Legislature met in
joint convention on the 28th of March 1853,
when the nominees of the Democratic caucus
were elected:

Board of Public Works — L. M. Miller, Ben-
jamin Allen, A. Froudfit.

Register — R. P. Eighme,

Treasurer — James Murdock.

May 6, 1853. "Mr. Ames, we hear, has
just purchased of Mr. McNeil, eighty feet on
Ferry Street for two thousand dollars. Tiventy
five dollars a foot. This tells something for
the growing business of the place."

The Democrat, of May 13, 1853, contains
the following extract from an article in the
Milvvaukee Sentinel, in favor of a railroad
from Oshkosh to Milwaukee:

"Here are two large rivers — the Wolf a very
large one — converging at Oshkosh, the central
point of Winnebago County, and emptying by
a common mouth into Lake Winnebago, the
one a hundred and twenty miles long from the
southwest, and the other a hundred and
twenty miles of navigable water from the north,
and sending their united business to their
common business center — Oshkosh. On the
Fo.\ are the thriving villages of Omro, Delhi,
Eureka, Sacramento, Berlin, St. Marie,
Princeton, Marquette and Montello. South of
this, bordering on it, is the county of Colum-
bia, and parts of Marquette and Winnebago.
On the Wolf are the villages ofAlgoma, Buttes j
des Morts, Winneconne, Fremont, Mukwa, J
Benton and Shawano. East of the Wolf are
the counties of Oconto and Outagamie, and
part of Winnebago. In the angle formed by
the two rivers, are the entire counties of Wau-
shara, Waupaca, and Shawano, and parts of
Marquette and Winnebago. These rivers are
the outlet of this whole extent of country, and
Oshkosh is the key and commanding mart of
the whole. "

For quite a period at this time — 1853 — the
Maine liquor law seems to have been the great
sensation. Number after number of the paper
contains temperance articles and notices of
temperance meetings.

The organic election under the charter
organization of the city of Oshkosh, was held
on the fifth day of April, 1853; and on that
day, Oshkosh commenced her career as a full-
fledged city, having adopted the city charter
by 177 majority.

The following named persons were elected
for the first municipal officers of the newly
made city, viz:

Mayor — Edward Eastman.

City Clerk — William Luscher.

Treasurer — W. H. Weed.

Marshal—'^. Neff.

School Snperinteiideiit — E. R. Baldwin.

Alderiiteu — First Ward: W. G. Gumaer,
H. Swart.

Assessor — D. Dopp.

Justice — C. Coolbaugh.

Constable — James Ray.

Aldcr'Hcn — Second Ward: Manoah Grififin,
A: Andrea.

Assessor — W. A. Knapp.

Justice — J. R. Forbes.

Constable — F. M. Crary.

Aldermen— i:\\\x^ Ward: A. Neff, Seth

Assessor — F. Leach.

Justice— \^. B. Reed.

Constable — M. Moody.




The Council, in May, 1853, passed a resolu-
tion granting licenses for the sale of spirituous
liquors to hotels for $20, and to saloons for
$25, and fixing the salary of watchman at $20
per month, and an additional $5 a month, to
be paid him for his services in ringing the city
bell at nine a. m., twelve m., and six p. m.

February 10, 1854. The concert of the
Oshkosh Glee Club is favorably noticed, and
Mrs. Voellner's solo singing is especially

February 17, 1854. The city is stirred
to its profoundest depths on the subject of a
railroad to Milwaukee.

Same date, a Free Bridge meetingwas held.


Oshkosh, February 24, 1854. Flour, $6.00
@6.SO; corn Meal $2.00; winter wheat $1.00
@i.IO; spring 95 [email protected]$ 1. 05; oats 25c; barley 40c;
beans [email protected]; corn shelled, 45c; porkperbbl.,
$1 [email protected]; fresh $4.25(0)4.75; beef, on
foot [email protected]; butter [email protected]

At same date wheat is quoted in Milwaukee:
Winter [email protected]; spring $I.lO(g)i.20.

In 1855 Mr. John Fitzgerald purchased the
entire steamboat force on the lake and rivers,
and systematized the business, running regu-
lar lines. The passenger and freight business
was very large and highly remunerative.

In this year the present cemetery was pur-
chased by order of the Common Council.

Mayor Jackson, in his inaugural of this year,
states that there is six hundred and seventy-
five rods of p'.ank side-walk in the First Ward,
four hundred rods of street, which has been
graded. In the Second Ward, 950 rods of
side-walk, an J 80 rods of graded streets. That
the whole amount expended since the organi-
zation of the city, is about six thousand dol-
lars; this sum includes the amount paid for the


" The transportation business on the waters
of Lake Winnebago, and the Wolf and Fox
Rivers, is beyond all precedent this season,
and is far exceeding he anticipations of the
most sanguine of our business men. The
amount of travel and emigration to, and
through this place is astonishing. This fore-
noon no less than five steamers cleared from
our docks, bound for various places on the lake
and rivers. The 'Oshkosh City' for Menasha,
the 'Queen City' for Berlin, the 'Eureka' for
Gills Landing, the 'Menominee' for New Lon-
don, and the 'Shioc' and 'Peytona' for Fond
du Lac. All had full loads of passengers, and
as much freight as could be stowed upon their
decks. Two of them had barges in tow, heav-

ily loaded with merchandise, mill machinery,
and the furniture and baggage of emigrants.
Oshkosh is the liveliest town of its size in the
State, and is growing, both in business and
population, at a rate which those who are igno-
rant of her unrivalled location, and command-
ing position would hardly believe unless they
were hereto witness it." (May 13th. 1856.)

May 28th, the Courier announces that "The
contractors have gone to work in earnest on
the Winnebago Railroad between this city and
and Ripon."


June II, 1856. "The work on the Lower
Fox between this city and Green Bay has been
so far completed that two boats, the Ajax and
Pioneer, have passed successfully through the
locks and canal from below Appleton. The
steamer Aquila has for some weeks made
regular trips between this city and Appleton,
passing through the lock and channel at Nee-
nah, so that our water communication with
Green Bay is now open. It is hardly possible
to over estimate the importance to Oshkosh
of the completion and successful operation of
this great enterprise."

October 31, 1856. "At a meeting held
October 23, at Mark's Hall, for the purpose
of the organization of an Engine Company,
Mr. O. Cook, was called to the chair, and
after a few remarks the company was enrolled
as the Pioneer No. i, of the City of Oshkosh,
Foreman, Wm. Wall; Assistant Foreman, Rob-
ert Howell. " t

November 25, 1856. "No Eastern mail since
night before last, and we are compelled to go
to press without late news of any kind. It
has rained every day for four days, and the
roads between here and Fond du Lac are
impassible. "

January 6, 1857. "Milwaukee market report:
Flour, [email protected]$6.oo. Wheat, winter, .95®
$1.00, spring, .88, Pork, $6.00."

February 4, 1857. "Niagara Company,
No. I , paraded yesterday for the first time,
with their new engine, escorted by the Osh-
kosh City, Band. The appearance of the Com-
pany was highly creditable to the public spir-
ited young men of which it was composed.
* * * The Company has been fortunate in
the selection of its officers; Wm. Wall, Fore-
man; Robert Howell, Assistant." * * *

February 4, 1857. "We understand the:t
an arangement has been concluded between
the Wisconsin & Superior Railroad Company,
and the proprietors of the land on the south
side of the river, opposite the foot of Broad
street, in the Third Ward, by which the Com-




pany are to have the right of way, and the free
use and occupancy of about tvventy-eiyht acres
for depot grounds, and other purposes con-
nected with the business of the Company. The
Company stipulate to estabUsh and maintain
both passenger and freight depots upon the
land so ceded, and that they are not to estab-
lish any other depots, either for freight or pas-
sengers, in any other part of the city.

The work on the line of the road between
this city and Fond du Lac is progressing
finely; about one-third of the entire distance is
already graded, and if the balance of the sea-
son should be ordinarily favorable for opera-
tions of this nature, the whole route will be
ready for the iron by the first of June. "

February 9, 1857. "The Common Council
of the City of Oshkosh have received the nec-
essary securities and will immediately issue
the city bonds to the Ripon & Oshkosh Rail-
road. "

February 11, 1857. * * * " Real estate
is advancing steadily in value and will con-
tinue to advance with the increase of popula-
tion and business.

Among the buildings and other improve-
ments contemplated, are the new church edi-
fices, to cost from $6,000 to $10,000 each, a
new court house, a railroad bridge across the
Fox River, a new bridge at the foot of Ferry
street, and another at the foot of Jackson
street. " * * *

February 26, 1857. "Germania Fire Com-
pany, No. I. This Company paraded this
afternoon, for the first time, with their new
engine This Company is composed of about
forty active young men, who made a fine
appearance in their neat uniforms, and looked
as if they were capable of doing good services
in case of an emergency.

We have now two as good fire companies
as any town of our size can boast of "

May I, 1857. "Our City. Never, since
Oshkosh was first laid out, has its prospects
been so encouraging as at present. Although
navigation has hardly commenced yet, there
are more new buildings in course of erection
than ever before. Six or seven stages arrive
daily, filled with passengers, most of whom
reniain permanently. Mechanics of all kinds
are in demand at good wages, and day labor-
ers can choose between two railroads and
street grading, as all these works are going

The Fond du Lac Railroad is graded to
within four miles of our city, and the remain-
der will be done early, while the iron for the
road is already on its way from New York. The

work will undoubtedly be finished by the first
of September.

The Winnebago Railroad Company are
making arrangements to finish their road as
far as Ripon by the first of December, and to
Portage City during the next season. The
people along the line from here to Portage
City are anxious to take hold of the matter
with a will, as it offers them their most favora-
ble route for a railroad. When this road is
finished, it cannot fail to be of great help to
our city in a commercial point of view, as it
passes through the most productive portion
of our State, which will take this route for an
outlet, making this a place for transhipment.
The offices of the road are to be located at this
place, and with the business of building and
repairing would build up quite a town of itself.
Already there are two lumber yards at Portage
City, furnished with Wolf River lumber, and
in Fond du Lac, Beaver Dam, &c., on the
completion of this road, a largelumber market
will be opened up; not only at Portage
but the whole line of the road will have to be

Our steamboats are all prepared to do a
large business, and they will all be needed.
There are eight steamboats owned at this
place, all of vi'hich run from or to this point
each day, besides one or two more owned at
different places. During the boating season
our docks present quite a city like appearance
on the arrival and departure of boats. Emi-
grants from all parts of the world center here
on their way either to the north, via Lake and
Lower Fox River; north-west, via Wolf River;
or west, via Fox River.

Our lumbering business is immense and
increasing each year; acres and acres of logs
are coming down Wolf River, and are either
used up at our mills or are disposed of for the
mills below us. The amount of lumber manu-
factured and the capital employed in this city
alone, would astonish even our own citizens.
There are eighteen saw mills, running near
one hundred saws altogether, besides shingle,
lath and sash machines; two grist mills kept
constantly going with custom work; two heavy,
foundry and machine shops; two large shops
for the manufacture of agricultural imple-
ments, besides a host of other manufacturing
mechanical establishments. Our population,
has increased from four thousand one
hundred and eighty-four, on the first,
day of June, 185S1 to over eight thous-
and at the present time, as ascer-
tained by Messrs. Kohlmann & Brother, whol
heve been engaged in taking the census pre-
paratory to getting out a city directory. Take!




it all in all, Oshkosh is far ahead of any of its
rivals, and is bound to take its position as the
second city in Wisconsin. "


Fires — Bonds Issued to St. Paul & Fond du Lac Railroad —
Oshkosh in '56 — Great Fire of 1859 — Northwestern Rail-
road Built — Railroad Accident — Items from The North-
western — War Times — Oshkosh Volunteers — The Draft
and Filling the Quota — The Close of the War — Good
Times — Progresss in Improvements —The Fire of 1S56 —
Nicholson Pavement — High School Building and other
Structures Erected — Improvement of the Streets.

|N February 6, 1856, the planing mill of
Phelps, Carlton & Co., and the saw
mill of Joseph Porter was destroyed by
fire. At the charter election April 6,
1856, Thomas A. Follett was elected
Mayor; J. R. Forbes, City Clerk; D.
C. Hicks, Treasurer; John La Dow, Marshal,
and Edwin Wheeler, Superintendent

The corner stone of the Episcopal Church
was laid June 30, 1856.

Another fire occurred July I, 1856, destroy-
ing the foundry of Williams & Stearns, and
several other buildings. The loss was esti-
mated at $12,000, and was severely felt at that

The Common Council, on the sixth of Aug-
ust, 1856, authorized the Mayor and City Clerk
to issue the bonds of the city to the amount
of $150,000, and to deliver them to the Chi-
cago, St. Paul & Fond du Lac Railroad Com-
pany, on the condition that said Company
pledge to the City of Oshkosh $200,000 of its
first mortgage bonds as security for the faithful
performance of the conditions on which such
bonds were issued, and conditioned that the
said Company shall expend the proceeds aris-
ing from the sale of such bonds, in construct-
ing the road from Fond du Lac to Oshkosh;
that they shall pay the interest on said bonds
as the same may become due, until the road is
completed to Oshkosh, and shall make cash

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 30 of 71)